The benefits that come from exercise seem endless. It helps boost mood, fights off diseases, gives you energy and makes you look good to name just a few.
With all the benefits that come from maintaining health, an important question needs to be asked: why does physical fitness seem so hard?
Finding the motivation and willpower to get in shape is difficult. For many of us, the lure of the couch is far too great to get up and head to the gym.
I’ll admit that before I got into shape, I would watch extremely fit joggers run by and wonder what they had that I didn’t. What were they doing so well that I wasn’t? Over the years, I’ve made it my goal to figure that out.
It took a lot of analysis and several years of trial and error in my workouts before finally finding some answers. But I’ve identified seven things that fit, healthy people do differently.
1. They schedule specific times to workout and stick to them
Working out “whenever there’s time” is too arbitrary to be effective and can open you up to a long list of excuses for not going. It’s important to set regular dates and times to work out so you can bypass the “lack of time” excuse.
By setting fixed times, you’re holding your actions accountable. It’s not something you do here and there, but a specific time that you need to schedule around. Most importantly, by setting a specific schedule, it becomes a part of your weekly routine – eventually it becomes something you do out of habit. And once that happens, you’re more likely to do it in the future.
2. They enjoy being active
For a lot of people, exercise is a chore – it’s something you feel like you have to do. But by looking at it this way, you turn it into something you never feel bad about abandoning. After all, chores aren’t exactly things people look forward to.
Fit people find joy in exercise and fitness. Whether it’s in the spirit of competition or the elation from breaking a new personal goal, fit people enjoy physical activity.
The external benefits that come from physical fitness might be the initial reason to start, but finding the joy in the activity itself is what will keep you coming back.
3. They understand that fit, healthy bodies can take time
Results don’t happen overnight. Getting fit requires determination and consistency that you don’t see in many other activities.
But it’s not just about seeing the reward far off into the distance and working your way to it. It’s also about finding the discipline to put in the effort to make it happen.
Fit people appreciate the discipline it takes to work out week after week. Finding the determination to keep moving forward becomes a matter of pride and a badge of honor – it feels good to know that you’ve put in steady effort towards a goal.
4. They focus on improvement, not perfection
There is no perfect body. There is no perfect workout or diet. In fact, eliminate all expectations about what physical fitness is supposed to be. Fixing your mind on perfect results will result in failure because you’re either demanding too much or setting unrealistic expectations.
Get into a mindset that focuses on improvement, not perfection. Rather than finding the perfect diet, aim to make improvements in your eating habits. Instead of looking for the perfect physique, look for what workouts you could be doing better.
Working out is more of a mental game than most people realize so it’s important to get into the proper frame to ensure that you keep going.
5. They make healthy eating a part of their life
It’s easy to get caught up in the new fad diet which makes lasting promises of change if only you follow the simple rules involved.
But the problem with most diets is that they’re often so restrictive that people struggle to maintain them over long periods of time. That’s why most people don’t stick with them.
A better approach to eating healthy is to look at it as a series of choices. You want to make slight improvements here and there by slowly cutting out unhealthy foods and introducing healthier options.
By slowing making better and better choices, you’ll eventually find that eating healthy becomes a part of your life; that also makes it much less likely for you to bounce back into eating unhealthy again.
6. They take sleep very seriously
Working out is rather pointless if you don’t get enough proper sleep. Sleep is when your body finds time to rebuild muscle and store new energy. Lack of sleep can be incredibly unhealthy – it can wreak havoc on your metabolism, mood and ability to handle stress.
Fit, healthy people do what they can to make sure they get the sleep they need. They make sure their bedrooms have the optimal conditions. They also make sure they don’t consume anything that will interrupt their sleep.
7. They realize physical fitness is a mental game
Fitness is often seen as a physical activity – sweating, muscle building, toning. At first, it seems to rely more on the physical than the mental.
But mental attitude towards fitness shouldn’t be discounted. It’s not just about brute force or sweat; there’s a mind-body connection as well.
It can take willpower and discipline to eat healthy. Sticking to a workout routine week after week takes grit and determination. All of these qualities originate in the mind. If you can focus your mind on these mental attributes, exercise and fitness become a lot easier.
Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about travel, motivation, self improvement and adventure. He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting. For fresh ideas on living life to the fullest, join his newsletter.